The Lead just received a press release from the Presbyterian centered More Light organization reporting on actions taken today at the biannual General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. The actions taken today will, if ratified, eventually make it possible for gay and lesbian pastors in committed same gender relationships to serve openly in ordained ministry.
From the press release:
"The action by the General Assembly removes G.60106b from its Book of Order, the Constitution which governs the Church and replaces it with new language. Formerly, it required fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness to be eligible for ordination as deacons, elders or ministers.
"The intent of this standard, passed over a decade ago, was to bar LGBT persons from full membership and service in our Church since marriage equality is not yet available to most in our country," Adee said.
New language passed by the General Assembly reaffirms historic standards of the Church that focus on faith and character which has withstood the test of time, and did not exclude anyone based on sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
This news was not received well though in other parts of the Presbyterian Church. The IRD weblog characterizes these decisions thusly:
"Late this morning the General Assembly here in San Jose took three actions that will do grave damage to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). (1) It voted immediately to remove the 1978-79 "authoritative interpretation" of the PCUSA constitution that declares homosexual practice to be contrary to God's will. (2) It voted to send out for presbytery ratification an amendment that would delete the "fidelity and chastity" standard for church officers. In the absence of that standard, there really would be no standard of sexual behavior. (3) It voted to adopt another authoritative interpretation to ensure that the church is unable to enforce any really binding standards of behavior in any area of life.
The effect on conservative or evangelical Presbyterians was like three hammer blows to the head, one after the other. (And there could be a fourth later today, if same-sex marriage is approved.) We know this fight isn't over--the presbyteries will have to weigh in, and we have a lot more votes there--but it still feels as if we've gone down for the count and the other side is already strutting around the ring like that famous photo of Muhammad Ali glaring down at the fallen Sonny Liston."
Update: AP report.